By Jamie Allison Sanders
Think the Upper East Side is all ladies who lunch and Park Avenue townhouses? Guess again. This neighborhood is home to some of the most delectable restaurants and prettiest stores in the city. This three-part series explores everything you thought you knew … and lets you in on some of the greatest secrets.
I Eat, Therefore I Am
With all the fancy restaurants in the city, it’s hard to find the one you really want to take that special someone to. Why not try davidburke & donatella (133 East 61st Street between Park and Lexington Avenues)? The interior is gorgeous, the wait staff couldn’t be friendlier (the hostess even offered us plastic bags for our wet umbrellas during one horrific rainy day), and the food is out-of-this-world. The Simple Salad ($11) is anything but, while the Grilled Organic Chicken Breast and Wild King Salmon ($18 and $25, respectively) are cooked to perfection. We recommend ending with the David Burke’s Cheesecake Lollipop Tree ($8 at lunch, $18 at dinner), which is really just fun for the whole family.
Dying for a great view of the city – away from the after-work crowd at 230 Fifth and the horrific tourists at the Empire State Building? You’d better head to the Bentley Rooftop Restaurant (500 East 62nd Street at York Avenue), which resides in the penthouse of the stately Bentley Hotel. The view, which offers a fantastic glimpse of the Queensboro Bridge and the whole of the Upper East Side, really can’t be beat. And the food isn’t half-bad, especially for a hotel bar! We love the Caprese Salad ($9) and the Penne Alla Vokda ($15), and the bartenders sure know how to mix a good Cosmopolitan.
If you’d prefer to just wander the streets in search of a good meal, your best bet is to get off the subway on 77th Street, head to 2nd Avenue and walk up. The streets are littered with option after option, from greasy spoon and tiny pub to more – ahem, suitable options.
Shop Till You Drop
3rd Avenue in the 60’s might just have the market cornered on fantastic shopping. Of course you’ve got department store giant Bloomingdale’s (1000 3rd Avenue), where you can find everything from DKNY tights and Anna Sui dresses to M.A.C Lipglass and Philosophy 3-in-1’s. Directly across the street is one of the city’s Urban Outfitters outposts, home to kitschy décor items, boho dresses and rocker tees. Heading up the street you’ll see Pookie & Sebastian (1069 3rd Avenue), where girly dresses and tops are all the rage and most retail for under $100. (Note: There’s a fantastic P&S outlet on 77th Street.) CHUCKiES New York (1073 3rd Avenue) has all the shoe greats – Tory Burch, Jimmy Choo, Dolce & Gabbana – and our favorite – read, huge – Searle location (1051 3rd Avenue) has hot designer offerings in spades. We also love, love, love Laila Rowe (1031 3rd Avenue), where you can find beautiful handmade jewelry for $20 or less. (The end-of-season sales aren’t half bad, either!)
If boutique shopping is more your thing, you’ve come to the right place. The three locations of Cantaloup (1036 Lexington Avenue, 1359 2nd Avenue and 1217 3rd Avenue) are proponents of downtown style at uptown locations. Snatch up jeans by Citizens of Humanity, lace thongs by Hanky Panky and cute tops by Iisli, among others. Big Drop (1321 3rd Avenue) sells some of our favorite designers, including 3.1 by Phillip Lim, Castle Star, Jovovich-Hawk and girly-girl’s fantasy Rebecca Taylor, while heavy-hitter Scoop has got stores all up and down 3rd Avenue (from 1273-1277) – which include Scoop and Scoop Men. And let’s not forget Intermix, whose largest location (1003 Madison Avenue) holds fabulous designers like Vince, Robert Rodriguez and Catherine Malandrino. (On our last visit, we scooped up a blazer by LaRok and jeans by Paper Denim & Cloth and Seven for All Mankind.)
Speaking of jeans, you’ve simply got to check out National Jean Company (1375 3rd Avenue). Boasting more denim brands than we can count – looking at the list actually made us dizzy – the shelves are stacked as high as the eye can see with denim in every fit and wash you can imagine. Pick up big names like Rag and Bone, True Religion, Chip and Pepper, Citizens of Humanity, Buffalo, Clu, J Brand, Hudson, Paige Premium Denim, William Rast…the list literally goes on and on. We dare you not to find at least 10 amazing pairs here.